Seeking Solutions Symposium Follow Up Report on Period Poverty in St. Louis

Seeking Solutions Symposium Follow Up Report on Period Poverty in St. Louis

 “Period Poverty” and St. Louis Women

A recent report, led by St. Louis University associate professor Dr. Anne Sebert Kuhlmann, found that 64% of low-income St. Louis women occasionally struggle with affording menstrual products such as pads or tampons, and 20% of those women stated that they struggle with this on a monthly basis.  This phenomenon is often referred to as “period poverty.” 

Period Poverty impacts women in a wide variety of ways – those who are experiencing economic insecurity are often left to make the difficult decision of paying for food for their families or menstrual products.  To further complicate this issue, Missouri is one many states with what is referred to as a “tampon tax,” meaning menstrual products are taxed as “luxury items” rather than as necessities which are not as heavily taxed.  Because these products are not recognized as necessities, government-assistance programs do not cover the costs for them.  The cost of menstruation often leaves many women with no choice but to use alternatives such as paper towels and rags in place of commercial products, and even miss days of work at a time when those alternatives are inadequate.

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Resources: Period Poverty in the St. Louis Region

A recent study found that nearly two-thirds of low-income women in the St. Louis region can’t always afford pads or tampons – often resorting to rags, diapers or paper towels. This issue is often referred to as “period poverty,” and has serious economic and health implications for women and girls. 

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On March 8, 2019, the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis is hosting a Seeking Solutions Symposium on the topic of Period Poverty in the St. Louis Region. We look forward to learning from our panelists and attendees as we work together to seek tangible solutions and opportunities for action.

Recent Local Research

Dr. Anne Sebert Kuhlmann’s research on period poverty in St. Louis:

·        Journal Article: Unmet Menstrual Hygiene Needs Among Low-Income Women

·        Needs Assessment: Menstrual Hygiene among Low-Resource Women in St. Louis

 Dr. Sebert Kuhlmann is an Associate Professor at Saint Louis University whose research focuses on women's health both domestically and internationally. She recently published a study documenting the unmet menstrual hygiene needs of low-income women in the St. Louis area and is continuing to work on follow-up studies that will provide more insight into these menstrual hygiene needs. She serves on the board of Dignity Period, a local non-profit organization that provides menstrual hygiene education and kits to schoolgirls in Ethiopia and is the reusable pad partner of the new St. Louis Alliance for Period Supplies.

Missouri Appleseed’s research on access to period products in Missouri prisons:

·        Summary: Access to Feminine Hygiene Products in Missouri Prisons

Missouri Appleseed develops solutions to problems in our communities with a goal of providing all Missourians an opportunity to live healthy, dignified, and productive lives.  They one of eighteen other independent centers that make up the Appleseed network. For over two decades local Appleseed Centers have been a leader in championing the rights of society’s most vulnerable populations. Appleseed Centers across North America are dedicated to advancing justice and creating opportunities to help all people build better lives.

Check back here for additional resources in the coming weeks.